Changing foreign currencies to Thai baht

by Yin Teing on June 22, 2010

When changing foreign currencies, you need to look around for the best rates. In Hatyai, the exchange rate for MYR (Malaysian ringit to Thai baht) are quite good.

Recently in Chiang Mai, I was helping some friends to change different currencies – Malaysian ringgit (MYR), Singapore dollars (SGD) and US Dollars (USD) to Thai baht. 

foreigncurrencies-exchange

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Different banks have favorable rates for different currencies. For instance, if a particular bank offer a good rate for USD, it does not mean that the rate will be good for other currencies.
  • In total, I went to 2 different bank and a money changer to have the 3 different types of currencies changed
  • If you are bringing in USD- it matters if you are changing small or big denominations. Refer to the board (image) above, you will notice that the smaller USD denominations of USD 1, 5, 20 have less favorable rates compared to USD 50 or USD100. It’s the same for all the banks that I’ve visited. Therefore, if you are preparing some extra USD just in case, bring the bigger denominations (ie USD 50 or USD100) to get better exchange rate.
  • Banks allow you to change into smaller denominations- for instance if you have some 1000baht notes with you, you can walk into any banks to have them changed into smaller denominations of 500, 100, 50 or 20 baht to enable you to buy things.

In Central Airport Plaza in Chiang Mai, not only there are lots of food to eat, as you walk further within the same floor, there are also a number of different banks that you can visit to change your money.  A few of the banks in the complex are opened on Sunday so you can change money there also.

During the time that I was there, CIMB Thai offers better rate for USD, while another bank (forgot the name) offers better rate for SGD. For Malaysian ringgit, we went to a regular money changer. It differs from day to day so check it out before exchanging.

But whatever you do, withdrawing funds directly from your Plus enabled ATM card (that links to your bank account in your home country) should be your very last option. The exchange rate is really against your favor- I have withdraw from my ATM card on a few occassions and not even once that the rate is good. Not only that, I also have to pay service charge each time I withdraw (because it’s a different issuing bank).  If you do withdraw, do note that service charge are charged per withdrawal- so avoid withdrawing multiple time. For instance, if you need to withdraw about 20000 baht, avoid splitting up the withdrawal to a few times. If you withdraw 20000 baht one time, you need to pay service charge only once. If you withdraw twice, of 10000 x 2, then you pay service charges twice.

Most ATM machines place a cap on daily withdrawal limit- it varies from bank to bank but it’s usually around 20000, 25000 or 30000 baht per day.

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